Real Madrid 2-0 Atletico Madrid: Champions close gap with another precious win
Madrid celebrate in derby
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For the third game running, Real Madrid landed a big victory as LaLiga leaders Atletico Madrid went down in the derby.

Real Madrid beat LaLiga pacesetters Atletico Madrid 2-0 in the derby on Saturday to close to within three points of the leaders and cap a brilliant week.

Pressure was building on Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane before his side won at Sevilla last weekend and then progressed in the Champions League by seeing off Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Spanish champions therefore headed into the clash with Atleti in high spirits and quickly established another lead through Casemiro's header.

Atleti had won their prior seven LaLiga matches and were unbeaten this term, but their record against Madrid is rather less impressive and Jan Oblak's unfortunate second-half own goal ensured a ninth consecutive league meeting with their neighbours without victory.

Madrid had the visitors on the back foot from the outset and only a vital fingertip touch from Oblak denied Karim Benzema as he cracked a 20-yard drive against the upright.

The opener arrived soon enough as Casemiro rose to head Toni Kroos' corner inside the near post, unimpeded following marker Hector Herrera's slip, although the game slowed thereafter.

Atleti had to wait until the 55th minute for their first effort of note but should have drawn level as Thomas Lemar ghosted in at the far post after Raphael Varane failed to cut out a low cross, only to stab a tame effort into the side-netting.

They were made to pay eight minutes later when Dani Carvajal rifled in a low shot from outside the area and the ball bounced off the post, against a prone Oblak and into the net.

A recovery from Diego Simeone's men always appeared unlikely and Thibaut Courtois saved well from Saul Niguez's close-range header to allow Madrid to coast home, almost netting a third as Oblak turned Lucas Vazquez's blast over the top.

What does it mean? Blancos back on track

Madrid had lost two of their previous three home league games coming into this contest, but the tide already appeared to have turned earlier in the week.

A vital victory at Sevilla was followed by the most accomplished display of the season so far as they leapfrogged Gladbach, setting the stage for a third win and a third clean sheet.

Atleti did not even have a shot before half-time - the first such instance in this fixture since Opta records began in 2003-04.

Madrid inspired by spine

Since Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Juventus, Madrid have relied heavily on the key men through the centre of their side: Courtois, Sergio Ramos, Casemiro and Benzema.

Six times this season that quartet have started together in LaLiga, six times they have won. Only one of the other half-dozen matches have ended in victory.

While Casemiro grabbed a goal, this was a particularly special outing for Benzema, who surpassed Roberto Carlos for the most Madrid appearances by a foreign player (528).

Atleti lament Lemar miss

Lemar last week netted his first club goal since April 2019, but Saturday brought a return to his frustrating prior form in LaLiga.

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The France international came off the bench at half-time yet failed to create a single chance and passed up Atleti's clearest opportunity with one of his two shots.

What's next?

Madrid are quickly back in action at home to Athletic Bilbao on Tuesday, while Atletico have Copa del Rey duty against Cardassar the following day.